starring Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, June Squibb
screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, based on the book by Louis Begley
directed by Alexander Payne
by Walter Chaw Alexander Payne's (Citizen Ruth, Election) third film is his best. He (like Wes Anderson and his third film, The Royal Tenenbaums) has come into his own as an auteur voice for a new American cinema that finds its underpinnings in David Lynch and John Cassavetes--in the Midwest grotesque and the elevation of the banal. In relating a Prufrockian tale of a man reassessing the ruin of his life upon the occasion of his retirement from a life-insurance firm, Payne strikes a balance between absurdity and pithiness, becoming in the process the sort of satire that exposes essential truths about the disintegrating spiral of life and the human condition. Married as it is to another wonderful late-career performance by Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt is heartbreaking and brilliant.